Formerly called Ivory Coast, Cote d’Ivoire is one of the most successful francophone countries in West Africa. Boarded by Guinea, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana and the Gulf of Guinea, it gained its independence in 1960 from France.
With over 78 different languages, the country has a shared population of Muslims, Christians and various indigenous religions.
For many centuries, Cote d’Ivoire was ruled by one of many Island Empires of the region, however, the French began to have an interest in exploring the area in the 1600s, but they didn’t gain control over the country until the mid-1800s.
Abidjan is the economic capital and largest city while Yamoussoukro is the centre of the country and political capital. According to results of a recent population census, Cote d’Ivoire has an estimated population of 25.72 million, which ranks 53rd in the world.
As the leader in cocoa beans production, Cote d’Ivoire supplies 33% of the world’s cocoa and produces 1.8 million tonnes as of 2017.
Despite all the progress it makes in agriculture, Cote d’Ivoire has been hit by devastating civil wars that have reduced the progress made in that sector.
Amidst these challenges, the country has been able to produce personalities who have distinguished themselves in various fields, including in sports, music, and academics.
As Cote d’Ivoire celebrates its 59th independence, here are 5 people who have placed the West African country on the global map:
Drogba is an Ivorian professional footballer who played as a striker. He captained the Ivorian national team and Chelsea Football Club. He played as a physical out-in-out striker for his club in England, becoming the all-time goal scorer for a foreign player.
He also set the record for being the fourth-highest goalscorer of all time, scoring more goals than any other foreign player in Chelsea. Drogba is a symbol of Ivorian football as he has been named twice as the African Footballer of the Year, winning the accolade in 2006 and 2009.
Isaach De Bankole
Isaach De Bankole was born in Abidjan to Yoruba parents. He can be described as one of the most famous actors from Cote d’Ivoire. He has appeared in over fifty films, including Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Coffee and Cigarettes, and The Limits of Control. The prolific actor has also had roles in superhero film Black Panther. He has been based in the United States since 1997.
DJ Arafat is an Ivorian DJ and singer, who makes music of the Coupé-Décalé genre.
He is the son of Tina Glamour, also an artist, and the deceased musician Houon Pierre. He is considered one of the most popular African artists in Francophone countries around the world. DJ Arafat is one of the first in his country to obtain 1 million views in less than a day on his song ‘Moto Moto’.
Aged 66, Alpha Blondy is a reggae singer and an international artist of repute. Many of his songs, mostly sang in his native language of Djoula, are motivated usually by social and political occurrences.
The first son of a family of eight children, Blondy was raised by his grandmother, growing up in what he described as “among elders”, which later was to have a big impact on his music career.
Ali Traore is an Ivorian-born French professional basketballer who made his professional debut with ASVEL Basket during the 2001–02 season. In the 2004–05 season, he played college basketball at the College of Southern Idaho. He currently plays for the France National Basketball team standing at 2.08 m (6 ft 10 in). He plays at the centre position.